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Housing: up, up and out

by Lindsay Shelton
The unaffordable cost of houses has become a key election issue, with so many first-time buyers being forced out of Wellington. How far do they have to go? A report last week showed that – for the first time – houses in Kapiti are the most in demand of anywhere in the region. But at the same time, asking prices for Kapiti houses have gone up.

Over the entire region, Trade Me Property reported the demand for houses went up by 34 per cent in August, compared to a year earlier. When you break this down:

Compared to August last year, the Kapiti Coast saw a 68 per cent jump in demand, followed by South Wairarapa up 44 per cent and Wellington City which saw a 40 per cent increase in demand.

And are houses any more affordable on the Kapiti Coast?

“The average asking price in Kapiti reached $685,000 in August – a 16 per cent increase on the same month last year – making it the third most expensive district behind Wellington City ($799,100) and Porirua ($723,950). We have not seen Kapiti feature in the top three most in-demand and expensive districts in the Wellington region previously. With prices creeping up right around Wellington, Kiwis are looking at other options and weighing up a longer commute in exchange for cheaper house prices.”

More on this from Trade Me Property spokesperson Aaron Clancy:

“We reckon that some Kiwis have become accustomed to working from home after the lockdown, this reduces the issues many have with commuting and makes districts further from the CBD even more appealing.”

Even further from the CBD, if not even more appealing, there’s Levin, which is preparing to more than 2000 new houses to respond to the opening of Transmission Gully and eventually the Otaki to Levin motorway – which will let the locals drive to Wellington in less than an hour. (Or as someone said, over-excitedly, last year – we’ll be able to get from Wellington to Levin in half the time. And someone else asked: “Why?”)

The Taraika Master Plan is a proposal to develop 420 hectares of land … with approximately 2,500 homes, parks, reserves, a local shopping centre, an education facility, stormwater retention areas, and several roads and a shared pathway will connect the development with Levin. “The Greater Wellington Region has named Horowhenua as a growth area as we will soon be less than an hour’s drive from downtown Wellington,” said Levin Mayor Bernie Wanden. “We estimate that we’ll need to build 400 houses every year for the next decade, and Taraika will go some way toward meeting the demand.”

There’s also a plan to build 2000 new houses on rolling hills in Porirua – controversial because it’s next to a nationally significant wetland. New Zealand has lost 90 percent of its wetlands, and Friends of Taupō Swamp and Catchment chair Bill McAulay says nothing should be taken for granted.

“Our belief is that this is not an appropriate area to be putting an intense urban area like that. It’s rare for there to be any wetlands left in the Wellington area, there’s only about 2 percent left, so every square metre counts to protect what’s here.”

Nevertheless the Porirua City Council has been given the go ahead from the Minister for the Environment to use the Streamlined Planning Process (SPP) to change its District Plan to rezone the land for residential development.

And will the houses be affordable?

The Opportunities Party got constructive at the weekend with its plan for new affordable homes on part of the Mornington golf course. Its leader Geoff Simmons suggested that the golf course could keep a third of the land for a 9 hole course (for its 100 members), another third could be used for houses, and a third would be green open space. Sounds good?

Not according to Wellington city councillor Teri O’Neill, who has the parks, beaches, and open spaces portfolio. She told the DomPost that while there was some validity in the idea, it would not get off the ground due to the protection the land had under the Town Belt Act. She suggested that land at the Miramar Golf Club, next to Wellington Airport, was a better option for housing as it did not have the same protection.

“If we are going to talk golf courses, Geoff Simmons has got the wrong golf course,” said local MP Paul Eagle. He said he was working on the Miramar golf course idea, which would see the Government buying half the club’s land and turning it into housing, while also redeveloping Strathmore Park behind.

And will the houses be affordable?

2 comments:

  1. Conor, 22. September 2020, 12:10

    This is a direct consequence of Wellington City not zoning for enough homes. The Draft Spatial Plan goes some way to addressing that, but no where near far enough.

     
  2. bsmith, 22. September 2020, 14:59

    No it’s not …. it’s a direct consequence of people now having a choice of where to live, (once the new highways are complete) and being able to commute in a timely manner, not to mention the better climate and cheaper housing.